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A SUSSEX LAD
The year was 1965, and the Swinging Sixties were well under way: The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were battling it out for the title of Greatest-Ever Rock Band, while society was being turned on its head. Now the age of deference was over and a new egalitarian Britain was born, one that was to replace a keen interest in the lives of the aristocracy with an insatiable appetite for the world of the celebrity. And, on 30 March 1965, a child entered the world who would make a spectacular career on the back of that enthusiasm for celebrity before eventually becoming one himself: Piers Stefan Morgan had arrived. Legend has it that he was named after the brewery heir and privateer motor-racing driver Piers Courage – certainly he would go on to lead a similarly tumultuous life.
Not that he was known as Piers Morgan back then; rather, he was Piers Stefan O’Meara, the fi rst of the two children of Eamon Vincent (a dentist) and Gabrielle O’Meara. His younger brother Jeremy arrived shortly afterwards. ‘Vincent’, as he was known, would die before his son was one year old. ‘When he died, I had a very strong mother and grandmother looking after me, being extra-strong for me and loving me unconditionally,’ Piers later recalled. ‘My mother has always encouraged her four children [she went on to have two more with her second husband] to live their dreams. If we’ve ever been in trouble, she’s defended us like a lioness.’ In fact, Vincent passed away tragically early, at thirty-one; he had been in a car accident and died in the ambulance taking him away from the wreckage. Piers Morgan’s public
Piers Morgan’s public persona has been a rumbustious one; never afraid of controversy, happy to participate in feuds and always giving as good as he gets. He comes across as extremely brash, something which caused quite a few people to dislike him at one stage in his career, although he calmed down considerably once he made the move from the medium of the printed word to television. Yet there was tragedy in his life from a very early age: to lose a father so young was a terrible sadness. Although he was lucky enough to acquire a stepfather, with whom he became really close, Piers has more in common with the celebrities who tell him about their own problems on ITV’s Piers Morgan’s Life Stories than would at fi rst seem obvious. What’s more, he can be far more sympathetic than anyone might expect.
But Piers’ relationship with his mother was strong and this was to see him through the most diffi cult times until she married for the second time and provided him with a father fi gure. Although born and brought up in Sussex, he actually has a more international background. Technically, he is one-quarter English, three-quarters Irish (with a little Spanish thrown in): his mother Gabrielle Oliver was born in Battle, Sussex in the 1940s, to Matthew Dudgeon Oliver and Edith Margot Cantopher, who later divorced. Their story is typical of Britain at that time: a life spent in the Colonies, specifi cally India. Piers’ maternal greatgrandfather William Joseph Cantopher was born in the province of Deccan in 1891. William’s father Bernard was a London University-educated civil engineer, who worked in Berhampore, Murshadibad and Bengal; William later returned to Britain in 1911, where he worked as a stockbroker. He married Edith Mary Kelly, also of Irish descent.
About the Author-
- Emily Herbert is the author of Lady Gaga: Behind the Fame and Michael Jackson: King of Pop.
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